What does Gender Bias look like?

I recently conducted an informal survey asking my friends and colleagues both men and women if they had experienced or witnessed someone experiencing gender bias…most people said no. When probed further most of the women and men (after being explained the 4 patterns of gender bias) could come up with so many examples.

Some of them are shared here to give you an idea of what it looks like.

  • Do you hear statements such as?
    • “She is so aggressive.”
    • “I wonder how you manage with two kids.”
    • “I would never let a maid touch my child.”
    • “She is such a bitch.”
    • “She is such a bimbo.”
    • “She has small kids. Let Suraj travel instead.”
    • “My wife is such a dedicated mother. She left her job to be with them.”
  • Have you experienced that in a group if a woman gives an idea it is not picked up but after a little while a man repeats the idea and everyone picks it up?
  • If a man is working from home…he is working from home and if a woman is working from home…she is spending time with her kids.
  • Are you stuck with the office housework? E.g. making notes in meetings, handling low status committees etc.
  • Do you feel that you have to be more tactful while dealing with juniors than your male colleagues?

Joan C. Williams, distinguished professor of law at the University of California, Hastings College of Law and co-author of “What Works for Women at Work has described 4 patterns of gender bias that she has culled out from many sociological studies:

  1. Prove it again: Women feel the need to prove and reprove repeatedly their competence at the workplace. Their competence and commitment is questioned again and again.
  2. The tightrope: Women literally have to navigate a tightrope between being perceived as too feminine and therefore liked but not respected and too masculine and therefore respected but not liked. Whereas to get ahead in life we need to be both liked and respected.
  3. The maternal wall: Negative assumptions are made regarding women’s competence and commitment after motherhood. The assumption is that good mothers should be at home. Amazingly this bias effects non-mothers as well as the assumption is that eventually they will become mothers.
  4. Tug of war: Due to a perceived scarcity of positions for women at the top a fierce competition gets triggered. In fact, in all spheres women get judged adversely by other women because this competition is also because women’s identities are at risk.

After the first edition of Women-Lead – Leadership Workshop for Young Women Leaders” that we conducted successfully on 5th March 2016 in Delhi-NCR, we are conducting the next edition on 26th August 2016 (Women’s Equality Day). The aim is to equip them with strategies that work for women in leadership roles.>Get the details

Lovely Kumar is a facilitator, trainer, psychometric assessor and heads Larks Learning Pvt. Ltd. She has a unique background which combines economics, management, advertising, sales, teaching and training. She has worked with a range of corporates and academic institutions. Additionally she has obtained international certifications in training and psychometric assessments.

Learn more and reach Lovely Kumar at www.larkslearning.com.